Ohio convicted murderer priest gets new hearing

AP News
Posted: Apr 12, 2011 11:13 AM
Ohio convicted murderer priest gets new hearing

A Roman Catholic priest convicted of strangling and stabbing to death a nun will get a chance to overturn the verdict based on his claim that his constitutional rights to a fair trial were violated.

A judge set a hearing for later this month that will allow the Rev. Gerald Robinson to argue that his trial lawyers were ineffective and that newly discovered 30-year-old police reports could have changed the outcome of the case.

Robinson was convicted in 2006 in the killing of Sister Margaret Ann Pahl a day before Easter in 1980. She had been stabbed 31 times in a Toledo hospital chapel where both of them worked. Church historians have said it's the only documented case of a Catholic priest killing a nun.

He was sentenced to 15 years to life in prison.

Robinson, 72, is expected to be at the hearing on April 29, The Blade newspaper reported.

"I'm delighted that he's been granted a hearing, and I think his claim to ineffective assistance of legal counsel is an important one," said Rick Kerger, one of Robinson's attorneys.

Lucas County Common Pleas Court Judge Gene Zmuda said this week that the discovery of 136 misfiled police reports two years ago warranted a hearing. Prosecutors have said the reports don't contain anything that would help free Robinson.

Zmuda did reject Robinson's claim that another Catholic priest at the hospital could have been the killer.

Robinson is serving his sentence at Hocking Correctional Facility in Nelsonville. He remains a priest but has been barred from ministry.


Information from: The Blade, http://www.toledoblade.com/